Summer Cyber-Secure Challenge for Kids: The Internet is All Around Us

We’re in the bonus round of our Summer Cyber-Secure Challenge, and this one is for kids, or, if you don’t have them, you can take this challenge on yourself. No longer are computers the only household items that connect to the internet. We’re surrounded by things (phones, appliances, etc.) that connect to the internet, and unfortunately, sometimes those devices come with lax security.

The Internet is All Around Us

Part 1. Challenge your children to find and list as many items they can inside your home that connect to the internet. If they’re having trouble, give them the hint of looking at things that draw power (electronics).

Did they get everything? Routers, phones, tablets, fitness watches, game consoles, TVs, DVRs, thermostats, voice assistants, home monitoring systems, computers, laptops, printers, refrigerators, washing machines, etc.?

Are you surprised by anything on the list? Were your kids? Note that just because something is internet-enabled, doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily hooked it up to your home’s Wifi or cable internet. If your kids were surprised by anything on the list, talk about why the device may need internet access. For example, game consoles connect to the internet so that games can be played with other people online.

Part 2. Select something from the list that’s not a phone or tablet and have your kids do some internet research. Can they find a default username and password for the device on the internet? If so, have you ever changed it? If not, now is a great time to do so and use it as a teaching moment. User guides for electronics are often also posted online by the manufacturers, so search the web to get instructions on how to update the default login information.

Internet-connected devices should have the default passwords updated where possible. A unique password should close any possibility that some unknown person will be able to talk to the device in your home. In 2016, a botnet called Mirai actually took over internet-connected devices (with default passwords) and used them to attack websites. Remember, if a device can talk TO the internet, people and services out on the internet can talk BACK to the device.

This truly concludes our Summer Cyber Secure Challenge for 2019.

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